Alien hand

3 minutes

A syndrome stranger than sci-fi – how limbs can get a mind of their own

Following a brain surgery to treat her severe epilepsy, Karen Byrne seemed to be cured, but she soon noticed the actions of her left hand were entirely beyond her control. In fact, the hand seemed to have a mischievous emotional life all of its own. It turned out that the surgery, which split the nerve fibres connecting the two hemispheres of Byrne’s brain, had left her with a rare neurological condition known as Alien Hand Syndrome. Because each of her hands was now being controlled by an independently operating brain hemisphere, she was left with a bizarre power struggle on her hands. Using audio excerpted from NPR’s Invisibilia podcast, this short video uses expressive, playful animation to explore Byrne’s unusual experience of her own body.

Video by Invisibilia and Giant Ant

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